Classifications of Cheese

cheese classification cooking types

Knowing the classifications is incredibly helpful when purchasing and eating cheese and cooking with it. Think of these different situations. You can identify a cheese on a cheeseboard or platter by looking at the ripening. You can substitute one cheese for another when cooking by looking at the cooking properties of similar cheeses.

There are many ways food lovers classify cheese. Some classify cheese by the texture of it, (hard or soft), or by the ripening of it, (bacteria or mold). Here are the four main types of classification groups of cheese and the descriptions of each.

Classifications of Cheese by Texture:

Hard Grating Cheeses: Parmesan
Firm/Hard: Emmental, Cheddar, Provolone
Semisoft: Brick, Muenster, Roquefort, Talleggio
Soft: Camembert, Brie
Fresh: Ricotta, Cottage 
Processed: American, Cheese Spreads

    Classifications of Cheese by Covering:

    Hard/Leather/Waxed Rind: Larger cheeses, longer maturity, pressed to remove moisture - Raclette, Gruyère, Gouda
    Bloomy/Downy Rind: Soft rinds, often ‘fuzzy’, usually softens with ages - Brie
    Natural Rind: Interior is soft to firm with a natural rind that has a soft gray/blue colour or that often changes colour with age - Sainte Maure, Pouligny St. Pierre
    Saltwater Washed Rind: Saltwater-bath as it ripens - Muenster, Feta
    Blue Cheeses: Blue/green veined, cheese is cultured with bacteria to give it its colours - Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola
    Fresh Cheese: No rind, high water content, unripened - Fromage Frais, Demi-sel, Ricotta, fresh Goat Cheese, Mascarpone

      Classifications of Cheese by Ripening:

      Bacteria ripened from outside: Cheddar, Parmesan
      Bacteria ripened from inside: Limburger
      Mold ripened from outside: Stilton, Saga Bleu
      Mold ripened from inside: St. André
      Unripened: Cottage

        Classifications of Cheese by Cooking Types:

        As far as cooking and baking cheese types go, there are seven basic types of cheese:

        Cheddar-Style: Golden/white coloured, firm, shreds nice, good melting qualities -Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Gouda
        Swiss-Style: White/cream coloured, tangy, firm, shreds nice - Swiss, Jarlsburg, Gruyère, Emmentaler
        Parmesan-Style: Hard to very hard in texture, nutty in flavour, grates nice -Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino, Romano, Asiago
        Bleu Cheese-Style: Crumbly texture, sharp to smooth in flavour - Gorgonzola, Stilton, Bleu d’Avergne, Roquefort
        Ricotta-Style: Soft cheese, high in water, mild flavour - Ricotta, cottage cheeses
        Cream Cheese-Style: Soft, used for spreading or incorporating - cream cheese, Neufchâtel, some fresh goat cheeses
        Mozzarella-Style: Soft or stringy, used for pizzas, nachos, quesadillas -Mozzarella, Oaxaca, string cheeses


        Notes and Tips:

        *Any cheese in the different styles can be interchanged as needed, for example, in the bleu cheese-style, a basic blue and Roquefort can be used interchangeably, although there will be some notable taste differences between the two.

        *When grating a hard cheese for pasta dishes, Asiago and Parmesan can be used in place of the other if one is not available.


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